Best Restaurants in New Orleans

The creme de la creme
July 21, 2016
by Zagat Staff

It's hard to stake a claim for greatness in a city known for its culinary masterpieces, but whether they're beloved grand dames of Creole cuisine or modern classics, Zagat’s top-rated restaurants in New Orleans rise to the challenge.

Gautreau's Restaurant
New American · Uptown · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.6

"One of the finest restaurants anywhere" – and certainly in New Orleans, is this "upmarket" Uptown destination features "exceptional" , "inventive" New American–New French cuisine that places an "emphasis on seafood" ; a "wonderful" staff caters to a "sophisticated local crowd" that enjoys "perfect meals" in the "intimate" setting, a converted pharmacy; P.S. reservations suggested.
Commander's Palace
Creole · Garden District · $$$
Food 4.8 · Decor 4.8 · Service 4.8

The "nostalgic" , "old-world" ambiance will "make you feel like a king or queen" at this "genteel" Garden District Creole icon – as will the "first-class" staff that treats "everyone the same: spectacularly" ; "rich" , "leisurely" dinners are an "experience to savor" , and made even more "epic" by a "phenomenal wine list" , so it's a "splurge" that's "worth every penny" , though some "prefer" the "fabulous" lunch (could it be the "25-cent martinis" ?); P.S. no shorts or T-shirts; jackets suggested for men.
French · CBD · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.7 · Service 4.7

John Besh's "rarified" CBD flagship is a "masterpiece" whose "beautiful" , "Gone With the Wind" –style interior and "invisible but omnipresent" staff set the scene for a "genuine dining experience" focused around a "wonderfully creative" French menu with a "NOLA twist" (it also boasts "sublime" wine pairings); the "cost is high" for the "memorable experience" , but fans say it's "worth the splurge" ; P.S. Friday lunch is a "great deal."
Brigtsen's Restaurant
Contemporary Louisiana · Carrollton · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.7

"Incredibly talented" chef Frank Brigtsen is a "wizard with seafood" , putting a "wonderful" "spin" on Cajun-Creole "favorites" at his "tucked-away" Carrollton cottage where the prices are "reasonable" for such "reliably" "delightful" dinners; the small, "quaint" rooms have a "warm, comfortable" vibe and the staff is "so friendly you may feel like you're at home" , so some may need reminding that it's "not proper etiquette to lick your plate clean."
Clancy's Restaurant
Creole · Audubon · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.6

This Audubon neighborhood "tradition" boasts "terrific" "contemporary" Creole cooking and "strong drinks" from the "well-stocked bar" , making it a "favorite of locals" who admit it's "not cheap" but agree "you get what you pay for" ; the "clubby" , whitewashed main floor can be "energetic" (read: "loud" ) while upstairs is "quiet" – either way, its "unpretentious" atmosphere makes folks "feel at home on the first visit."
American · French Quarter · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.5

Chef Susan Spicer "never disappoints" at this "long-standing sparkler" in the French Quarter, where "sublime" Contemporary Louisiana fare is prepared with "innovative tweaks" and paired with an "amazing" wine list whose "sole purpose" is to complement the food; "thoughtful, personalized" service is part of the "high-end" package, helping to ensure that whether diners opt for the cottage's "intimate" interior or the "charming courtyard" , "every aspect of the experience is memorable."
Restaurant R'evolution
Cajun · French Quarter · $$$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.8 · Service 4.5

"Absolutely amazing" enthuse fans of this "game-changing" collaboration between renowned chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto in the historic Royal Sonesta Hotel, which wows diners with an "imaginative" Cajun-Creole menu that "covers all the bases (and then some)" ; the "over-the-top" ambition extends to a "huge" wine list, "phenomenal" service and the showstoppingly "gorgeous" , "refined" setting, adding up to a "wonderful special-occasion restaurant."
Rue 127
Bistro · Mid-City · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.4 · Service 4.4

Nestled in a "quaint" Mid-City shotgun cottage, this "intimate" refuge draws foodies with chef-owner Ray Gruezke's "phenomenal" locavore New American fare served in "unusual presentations" ( "deep-fried cupcakes" , anyone?); although it's "excellent in all categories" , diners warn that "parking can be challenging."
Toups Meatery
Cajun · Mid-City · $$
Food 4.7 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.3

"If you're a carnivore, this is your restaurant" rave fans of this rustic Mid-City meatery, where chef/co-owner Isaac Toups' contemporary Cajun menu features "fantastic" house-cured charcuterie, some of the "best" cracklin's around and other "Flintstones-sized" hunks of meat – "it's so good you could eat it all, just not on the same day" ; paired with a cocktail pitcher or a beer from the "mostly local" selection, everything "tastes like happiness."
Sal And Judy's Restaurant
Cajun · $$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.3

"Go hungry" advise those acquainted with this veteran Lacombe eatery, where chef-owner Sal Impastato serves up "huge" portions of "scrumptious" "Italian food with a Creole twist" alongside pours from a "great wine list" ; although it's a bit of a hike to get there (the "only drawback" ), the "special" experience is "worth the drive" – just make sure you bring "a pickup truck for the leftovers."
GW Fins
Seafood · French Quarter · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.6 · Service 4.6

"Creative" presentations of fish resemble "fine art" at this "high-end" French Quarter restaurant helmed by the "outstanding" Tenney Flynn, who can "make a seafood lover out of anyone" (the biscuits are "addictive" too); adding to the "all-around excellent" experience, the "beautiful" , airy space is "extremely well managed" by a "polished" crew that cultivates regulars, including "hard-core foodies" , who return "time and time again."
Mr. John's Steakhouse
Steakhouse · Lower Garden District · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.2 · Service 4.3

The "quintessential" "neighborhood steakhouse" , this Garden District stalwart offers "exquisite" , "perfectly cooked steaks" served "sizzling" plus "generous" portions of Italian entrees in an "old-school" , "white-tablecloth" setting; prices aren't cheap, but there's free valet parking, so for a "special event" or "date night" , many consider this "the place to go."
Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse
Steakhouse · French Quarter · $$$
Food 4.7 · Decor 4.5 · Service 4.5

"Huge hunks of prime beef prepared to perfection" and "great drinks" are the draw at this "old-fashioned" French Quarter subterranean steakhouse with a "clubby" , "masculine" atmosphere; a "knowledgeable" staff that "magically" anticipates every need completes the "first-class" experience, though since "cost is always at a premium" , it's best for "special occasions" and "expense-account" situations.